Foolproof Reason Electric Cars Will Soon Take Over: Government Mandate

Mish

Electric cars are coming. Electric may not make any practical sense, but so what? Global warming advocates will win.

The two things I have battled most with my readers both pertain to cars. The first is self-driving, the second is electric.

Self Driving Cars a Proven Given

Autonomous cars and trucks are a given. I am done debating the issue. Some still do not see it. But it will be the next major disruption.

What About Electric?

On the heels of a self-driving disruption comes another major disruption: Electric vehicles will replace gasoline combustion engines, sooner rather than later.

But, But, But

  • Many of my readers will point out that electric vehicles do not make much sense except for those who only travel small numbers of miles.
  • They also claim the battery charging infrastructure is not in place and the alleged energy savings are nonexistent.
  • Finally, who the hell wants to wait thirty, twenty, or even 15 minutes when a gas fillip takes at most a few minutes?

My readers are correct on all three points. But why does that matter?

I assure you it doesn't. If China and the EU switch to electric, the world will follow whether or not it makes any economic or environmental sense.

EU Nannycrats

With the above backdrop, let's tune into EU nannycrat thinking via Eurointelligence.

​Parliament Votes for Much Tougher Car Emissions Standards

> The European Parliament wants to force the European auto industry to massively accelerate its switch to cleaner vehicles such as electric cars. Ignoring strong industry lobbying coupled with resistance from Germany and some Eastern member states, a majority of MEPs voted to go substantially beyond the European Commission’s proposals, and demanded that manufacturers reduce the average carbon dioxide emissions of their passenger cars by 20% until 2025 and 40% until 2030. They also voted to impose sales quotas for electric vehicles.

> EU governments are scheduled to determine their own position next Tuesday when environment ministers meet in Luxembourg. We expect that yesterday’s vote in the EP will ensure that the standards emerging from the final deal between EU lawmakers will be significantly tougher than the industry was hoping. Erik Jonnaert, the secretary general of the European Automobile Manufacturer’s Association, warned that the result would be to force the industry into a dramatic transformation in record time, possibly resulting in many job losses. And it would not make sense, he argued, to engineer such a rapid switch to the production of much more expensive electric cars, so long as the recharging infrastructure is not in place and incentives to buy them remain so different from one member state to the next.

> Advocates of these tougher standards point to the need to step up the fight against a further acceleration of climate change; also, the European industry would reap global competitiveness benefits from being forced into a more rapid modernisation. Handelsblatt notes that the narrow vote reflects the loss of political influence and public credibility of an industry shaken in recent years by huge scandals around fraudulent emissions practices.

> In Germany, meanwhile, the details of a deal to prevent driving bans for diesel cars have now been agreed - and it looks like a bad compromise that will make very little difference. It will only benefit the 10% or so of old-diesel drivers who live in 14 critical regions. The remaining 90% are facing the same depreciation losses but won’t get anything, as FAZ reports. We also have our doubts that this is legally watertight. What is touted as a compromise is seen by German commentators as a personal defeat for Angela Merkel, who sought a binding commitment by the car industry to upgrade old diesel cars for free. The deal may benefit some diesel drivers in and around Munich in particular - where elections are held in ten days - but will do little or nothing to stop the inevitable decline of the diesel car nationwide.

Economic Sense

Please, let's not get bogged down into debates as to whether or not this makes any sense.

I assure you that it does not matter one iota. No one in their right mind will rush to buy a diesel engine car in the EU.

The writing is on the wall.

The German car makers are not about to invest any energy in gasoline cars.

By process of elimination, electric is the 100% guaranteed wave of the future in Europe.

So let's not debate whether this makes any sense. It doesn't have to.

China Same Story

China is on the same path for a different reason.

China does not much give a damn about the environment.

Rather, China can burn coal to produce energy to recharge batteries instead of being dependent on the Mideast for oil.

What About the US?

This entire debate is over most people's heads, except for the auto industry itself.

In a nutshell, If GM and Ford want to sell cars to the EU and China, they better have electric offerings.

So here we are.

Electric Cars the Star of the Paris Auto Show

Phys.Org reports Climate goals mean Europe will overtake US in electric cars

The lead image is from that report. So are electric vehicles from Audi and Peugeot.

Ironically, the US has far and away the best technology right now, but that technology will be adopted, en masse, elsewhere first.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (50)
No. 1-30
Corto
Corto

Improving battery technology will be spurred on by this (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/08/180806104319.htm). I suspect within a few years we'll have batteries that can get a high % recharged in 5 minutes and have quite more capacity than currently. How that much power gets delivered might be a problem, for sure. Just as a comparison, I have an Ego lawnmower and snowblower, powered by 56V 7.5Ah packs. Both are easily as powerful as gas, without the hassle. Not too many years ago, technology was still struggling to make batteries that could last long enough to cut a whole lawn on one charge.

aqualech
aqualech

How to invest in the electricity generation side of things? Coal companies? (lol). Which are the green coal companies?

MtnMan
MtnMan

The current offering of electric cars can work for 90% of car trips today. They are cheaper to maintain (no oil changes, etc.) and can be used to store energy for your home. The adapt well to autonomous vehicles although they are not required for this transition. As a side effect, they may help reduce pollution in cities depending on the source of the electricity. Walking and biking are two of the greenest forms of transportation which Europeans and the Chinese already use a lot. Us North American's are totally reliant on car by design. Good article as always Mish, your views on climate science always puzzle me but hey maybe you are a trained scientist and I've just never heard you mention it. No one has anything to gain by putting forward a climate change agenda, governments can and will tax you at anytime for anything, they don't need science to help them with that. Take US health care, seems more like a health care tax but worse as it's going up very quickly. ok, I'm done :-)

oudaveguy98
oudaveguy98

Tesla's are taxpayer subsidized luxury automobiles for the wealthy. The optics and the ethics are questionable at best. A lot of green technology involves rare earth metals from China that are highly toxic. Detailed analysis of the pros and cons of these new technologies should be getting a lot more discussion on msm; yet another reason why America's journalists in the msm have no credibility.

Carl_R
Carl_R

I drove electric cars back in the 70s. (Sebring Vanguard Citi-car). I have no problem with electric cars, nor any doubt that what you are saying is true - the greens want electric cars, so we will get them. My question remains, will it actually make environmental sense? How much do we benefit by shifting the burning of hyrdocarbons from the vehicle to the power plant? Yes, the power plants are probably cleaner, but the flip side is that you get transmission losses and energy conversion losses.

Stuki
Stuki

The Euros are a lot more pragmatic than you give them credit for. Especially the Germans. They may nod along, while rolling their eyes, to the clowns, but only because they know full and well that by the time the rubber meats the road, regulations will have been shaped largely by the engineering and manufacturing industry itself. The drunken idiots in Brussels and their starry eyed staff, are simply never a match, in any debate, for a delegation of Herr Doktors who actually know something about what they talk about.

For all their babble about reducing blah, blah; the fastest growing segment in European automotion, has been CUVs. Just like in America. While, just like here, the only ones buying battery cars, are those furthest removed from the technology and industry of car making. Which is just a nice way of saying: The dupes who know nothing.

Which doesn't mean there aren't niches to fill for electric cars. Europe is chock full of dense cities, where electric propulsion make all the sense of the world. But it's also home to fast arterials between those densely populated cities/regions. And there, battery power make no more sense than diesel powered wheelchairs.

And furthermore, even attempting to build BEVs for the latter case, where they make no sense regardless, largely destroys the advantages they have for the former, where they do. As dragging around 2 tons of battery, as required for an Autobahn run of any duration, negates all advantages an electric have for low speed, low range city use.

Hybrids of some form, may bridge the gap; allowing for ICE bans in city cores, where their emissions matter; while allowing the vehicles to get out of sight of a power plug without weighing more than a Sherman Tank. Given how dependent the European consumer products industry has become on regulating themselves a captive market, it may be hard for them to go down that route, considering how much of the knowledge and experience sits in Japan. But diesel hybrids may be a win-win if they can be made economically. Diesel efficiency intercity, electric efficiency intra. Of course, any hope of "efficiency" goes out the door once available engine power goes up, and that's another stumbling block where the Germans have backed themselves a bit into a corner: People, even autobahn drivers, "need" a Prius. Beyond that, it's basically just bragging rights as far as passenger car power and size is concerned. Yet German industry has made itself rather dependent on their customers' de facto efficiency destroying desire to brag....

Ultimately, "hot" highways, are by far the "best" solution, assuming (a big assumption..) stable peaceful societies. No different from how a power grid reaching your house, beat the heck out of carting batteries down to the local supercharger to recharge your cooktop and laundry machine. Or filling them up with gasoline. Where a power grid is available, electric motors running directly on it, tend to displace all other contenders. It's just a better mousetrap.

For electric vehicles, it allows for city sensible small, low cost, lightweight, space saving battery packs for last mile; which will always be recharged, as they charge while you're on the highway. While high draw autobahn trips are powered from the grid. So you end up with lightweight cars that are efficient in the most fundamental way: payload to deadweight. And have "no" emissions. And as a bonus, the point of charger contact, exactly positions each car vis a vis others and the world, so you get autonomous operation essentially for free.

Perhaps Europe's Keynesian clowns, once the current hype/fad/credit bubble starts getting wobbly for real, will have themselves another "New Deal" of infrastructure spending; once Tesla has been demoted from future to "how could they be so naive" laughingstock... If not, the Chinese/Asians may force them, as they nuke and pave themselves an electrified trading route to the Atlantic.

Carl_R
Carl_R

One thing that hurts the electric vehicle industry is the insistence that all electric cars are suitable for all things. Electric cars don't all need to do 0-60 in 5 seconds, just as all gas cars don't need to do that. They also don't all need to have a 300 mile range. They would sell a fare number of electric cars that have a range of 100 miles, and a top speed of 60 mph, which would both be perfectly adequate in urban settings, and considerably less expensive than a car than can do 80 mph and 300 miles.

KidHorn
KidHorn

I went to Safeway this morning and there were two parking spaces dedicated to electric vehicle recharging. I guess the idea is your car recharges while you shop for groceries. Not a bad idea. I didn't check to see if you had to pay. The 2 spaces were empty. Maybe in the future, parking lots will be equipped with these for all parking spaces.

Coal is dead. There will be little to no building of coal power plants in the future. I think China will power their cars with renewable's..

Blacklisted
Blacklisted

If performance, efficiencies, or air quality are improved, then do it. However, if anyone is making the argument that it's due to global warming, they deserve what is coming - global cooling. Maybe they can use the car as an electric heater. As far as the EU dictating anything - how is that possible when the EU will be broken up within three years?

SMF
SMF

Having worked on the electrical construction industry in California for about 30 years, I can tell you that there just isn't the capacity in the electric grid for this type of conversion to electric cars. Nor will most people be willing to shell out about $7000 for the installation of a charger in their garage. This is one of those things where politicians and others are looking at the short term, not the long term issues.

Not to add that it is almost irrelevant how you get your electricity, when the mining of the metals creates their own environmental nightmare of epic proportions.

msurkan
msurkan

I love my 5 year old Nissan Leaf. I almost never exceed the 80 mile range in my daily driving and can use my wife’s gas car for those VERY rare occasions that I do. I never go to a gas or charging station. I just plug in to my 110v outlet at home every night. My electricity bill is far lower than what I would pay for gas and maintenance is almost nothing. No oil changes, and no repairs in five years. It’s the most reliable car I’ve ever had.

My next car will definitely be electric. Just boosting the range to 150 miles (which is now common) will virtually eliminate my need for a gas vehicle.

By the way, I got an incredible deal on a lease (thanks to subsidies) and then bought the car outright for a ridiculously low amount when the lease was up.

wootendw
wootendw

A government mandate is probably the only thing that will take the internal combustion engine off the road in favor of electric vehicles, as electric vehicles do not offer the buyer anything personally worth risking a big chunk of his cash for, over a gasoline engine.

Gasoline engines have had over a century of development including 3 decades of computer assistance in design. Cars with over 250k miles are not uncommon now. If electric is mandated for new cars, many will just keep their gas engines on the road longer.

CautiousObserver
CautiousObserver

@KidHorn: The only way China will power their car's with renewables is if additional batteries are used to store the renewable energy so that electricity is available to charge the vehicles when needed. The economics of having two batteries for every car and two charge and discharge cycles for every vehicle trip are extremely awful, but hey, economics often does not prevent lawmakers from passing mandates. Also, there are many people who will gladly pay more to never go to a gas station (charging their EV at home).

Mish may be correct. I notice the electric utilities are starting to get pretty excited. Soon after the EV boom there will be an electric infrastructure crises and government will make more laws telling us the times of day we are allowed to charge our cars and when we are all required to use the bus, no matter how inconvenient it may be. There will be new pollution restrictions on power generation, making electricity more expensive. There will be "EV cold weather alerts" where people will be advised to stay home instead of taking their cars out into zero degree weather. I can see it now.

Bam_Man
Bam_Man

In the meantime, the entire US electricity grid would have to undergo a massive, multi-trillion dollar re-build/upgrade to even make this possible. Not gonna happen any time soon.

ReadyKilowatt
ReadyKilowatt

Still lots of private jets parked across the street at Sardy Field in Aspen. Oh sure, some of the owners have the Tesla charged up and waiting on the tarmac when they land, but what’s their carbon (dioxide) footprint?

When I see KASE shut down due to lack of activity I’ll give up my Jeep.

vboring
vboring

Mish is 100% right on this one. Maybe 120% right.

The problems with EVs (stress on the grid, range anxiety, etc) are largely imaginary.

The expensive part of the electric grid is peak capacity. We currently use the peak capacity of the grid around a dozen hours per year. The vast majority of EVs don't charge during those hours. They charge overnight or at home. Upgrades will be needed, but not many.

VW's dieselgate fine was to build a nationwide high speed charging network - called Electrify America. It will be in service in a few years, so anyone with any brand of EV can go anywhere in the country.

For rural people who really do need unlimited range, plug-in hybrid trucks and SUVs will be available from every major manufacturer in a few years. All daily miles will be electric. Long trip miles will be gas. When the power goes out, your truck will keep your lights on. The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is one example already on sale in the US. The next F150 will have this as an option.

caradoc-again
caradoc-again

All these cars need rare earth metals, motor magnets etc. Think! Who has most control currently? China. Just a thought.

caradoc-again
caradoc-again

Another thought........there was a massive push on diesel as more efficient. Hey Presto, then particulate issues etc.

Who is to say the push to electric won't lead to a plethora of other unintended consequences just like the push to diesel did.

None of these people are wise enough to know the outcomes of forced decisions.

jjjjjjjjj
jjjjjjjjj

👍

2banana
2banana

What? And all the experts say that coal is going the way of the dodo bird...

Yes, ladies and gentlemen - coal will be used for a long, long time

+-+-+-

"Rather, China can burn coal to produce energy to recharge batteries instead of being dependent on the Mideast for oil."

JanNL
JanNL

I expect nothing but idiocy from the EU. So indeed.

JonSellers
JonSellers

I think to a large extent Mish is right about EVs. In the end however, the government cannot create raw materials that don't exist. And currently the amount of known reserves of Cobalt are too low to meet anywhere near the demand for li-ion batteries for every car to be produced. The government cannot mandate that which cannot be built.

So, while I believe Mish is generally correct, I think it is going to take much longer to get there and require some significant technological improvements in battery technology. It will likely happen, but you can't say when.

The bigger issue is that because it will be driven by China and the EU, they will be pushed to buying up known reserves and improving the technology. Not the USA. So in the end, the US will be the second rate producer.

But I'm still a solid "no" on the self-driving cars.

Kinuachdrach
Kinuachdrach

I guess everyone has seen the Bloomberg article about China slipping an extra chip onto motherboards used in most servers. The article mentions companies like Apple & Amazon -- but since China makes most of these kind of motherboards in the world, this means China can switch off (or hack) servers in the EU, Russia, India as well as in the US.

This will be of no interest to day traders, but over the long run other countries are going to start getting a lot more selective about which technologies they are prepared to rely solely on China. That is going to impact electric cars, as well as much high technology, and standard technologies also.

On top of the Peak Government squeeze on government finances around the world, this probably means that the electric car will decline to unsubsidized niche markets.

Tony_CA
Tony_CA

The EU is collapsing institution. It will not be successful in pushing EV mandates.

Tony_CA
Tony_CA

The EU is a collapsing institution. It will not be successful in mandating EVs. It has far larger issues to deal with at the present.

tz1
tz1

Just like everyone in the USA switched to the Metric system for everything and no one does anything in pounds, feet, miles, inches, acres or any other old English unit.

  1. Europe and China would collapse because the infrastructure cannot supply enough electricity. The California grid is at the edge fo collapse now on hot days before all the coal, hydro and the rest are offlined.
  2. They don't have flywheels or alternatives, and there's not enough lithium that can be mined (and it isn't recyclable [pun intended] currently] to replace petroleum with batteries - and I haven't heard about them using the old lead acid batteries. Maybe peak Lithium will follow the error of peak Oil. But you can't frac to get more lithium.
mpowerOR
mpowerOR

Mish still stuck on 20th century notions of "disruption'.

Self-driving will happen... for limited applications... it'll be a nothingburger relative to real disruptions on the horizon.

Electric is another nothingburger... limited applications, not affordable for mass market, and actually increases use/dependency of fossil fuels... virtue signalling hypocrisy... glorified golf carts. Yawn.

The impact/growth of crypto & blockchain dwarfs all this crap combined... laughable obsession w/ transit in an age when transit is becoming less necessary, supply lines shortening, etc.

BoneIdle
BoneIdle

When the free money runs out, then so do autonomous and electric cars.

RonJ
RonJ

"Please, let's not get bogged down into debates as to whether or not this makes any sense."

Germany wound up building more coal fired power plants. It does matter whether it makes any sense to go green. It does matter whether the grid system can handle 10's of millions of simultaneously charging vehicles on top of all the other electrical needs. It does matter that lithium in batteries cannot be recycled.


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